In creative work, we often contrast different qualities. Some of our favorite characters are walking, talking dichotomies. The most famous masterpieces in art are opposites nestled together on one canvas. In music, few things are as thrilling as an unexpected change-up in timing, tone, or theme. Likewise, I think December is an artful mash-up in month form, because we’re looking for a light in the darkness.
December is full of the celebration of light. Advent watches for the arrival of the Light of Love during dark times. The winter solstice heralds lengthening days and more sunshine. Hannukah remembers the lamp that would not burn out! Christmas sets the stage of expectation with shining choirs of angels, a dimly lit stable, and a star lighting the path. New Year’s Eve illuminates the night with bittersweet revelry.
If you haven’t read C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, or if it’s been a while, give it a read. (It’s a great bedtime story for the kids! I’m currently reading it aloud to teens and they love it, too.) As an adult, you’ll be struck by the poignant hope of citizens living in the dark, cold oppression of the White Witch, yet waiting for the return of their Light — and Christmas!
In Rick Steve’s European Christmas (a tv tradition at the Smith house), Steves puts it best: “[For years]…people…celebrating the birth of the son and…the return of the sun, have been rejoicing ever since.” It seems like the darkest time of the year lends itself to a spark of hope, and mysterious, magical moments.
The Magi, the Nissen, and Drosselmeier are favorite Christmastime characters. Why? Because they show up at just the right moment, and are a fascinating blend of good and bad, darkness and light. Rather like December, itself.
Add Light and Darkness to Your Work.
As you create this month, consider the season and its tradition of contrasts. Can you:
- give readers a glimpse into your protagonist’s dark side…or your antagonist’s hidden light?
- give your artwork a subtle glow? Or a dark undercurrent?
- give your poetry warmth, like coming in from the cold to a welcoming hearth fire?
- give your journal a magical layout, one that sparkles amongst the practical pages?
Take care of yourselves this month, because December can be a roller coaster of nostalgia, melancholy, and euphoria. While it’s easy to get swept up in the celebration, don’t forget to plan creative rest. When the culture climate seems dark and cold, turn off the media, turn on the twinkle lights, and remember: just when we need it the most, the Light will always return. What’s your favorite part of December?